Analysis: Poland On Course For Record Summer As LCC Influence Deepens
Poland’s aviation market has expanded rapidly in recent years, growing from 14.8 million departure seats in 2013 to 26.8 million in 2019. After dipping to 13.4 million and 12.5 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively because of the pandemic, the market bounced back to 22.9 million last year.
Much of this has been led by increased LCC penetration, with Ryanair and Wizz Air embroiled in a three-way battle for control of Poland’s skies with flag-carrier LOT Polish Airlines. LCCs accounted for about 48% of capacity in 2013, which rose to 51% by 2018 and now stands at around 57%, analysis of data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows.
Looking at schedules for the current northern summer season, Ryanair, Wizz and LOT will collectively control about 80% of seat capacity in Poland. Ryanair has a 33.3% share, followed by LOT on 24.9% and Wizz on 21.6%. Overall, Ryanair’s capacity will be up by 45% on summer 2019 and Wizz’s will be 17% higher. LOT will be down by about 3%.
Ryanair is further expanding its Polish network with more than new 30 routes during the forthcoming northern summer 2023 season as capacity from and within the country is on course to reach record levels.
The airline, already the country’s largest carrier, plans to operate some 5.8 million scheduled departure seats from Poland this summer—an increase of 48% on the total offered in 2019. About 94% of the capacity will be on international routes. It also has a large charter program through subsidiary Buzz.
Nine of the 32 new scheduled routes will be from Gdansk, along with six from Krakow and five from Warsaw Frederic Chopin. The ULCC is also adding new destinations from Katowice, Lublin, Nowy Dwor, Poznan, Szczytno and Wroclaw, as well as flying from Bydgoszcz, Rzeszow, Szczecin, and Routes Europe 2023 host Lodz.
Ryanair’s continued growth in Poland’s price-sensitive market is likely to push overall capacity to record levels this summer, with 17.2 departure seats scheduled to operate during the 2023 season. This compares with 16.4 million in 2019—the current record for a single travel period.
Alongside Ryanair’s 32 new routes planned from Poland this summer, Wizz and LOT are also expanding their networks. OAG data shows that Wizz has new routes from Gdansk and Poznan to Tirana, Albania; Rzeszow to Rome Fiumicino, Italy; and Warsaw Frederic Chopin to Bilbao, Spain.
LOT’s additions include five routes from Warsaw Radom to Copenhagen, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Preveza, Rome Fiumicino, and Tirana. Additionally, service has started between Krakow and Istanbul, operating three times per week using Embraer E195 aircraft.
Other new routes starting from airports in Poland this summer include Air Serbia’s flights from Belgrade to Krakow.